9780747544258 / 0747544255



Publisher:Bloomsbury UK



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About the book:

In Joseph Olshan's Vanitas (the title refers to a conceit in Dutch art in which the painter would include a memento mori--Latin for "be mindful of dying"--in the midst of vibrant life scenes), the specter of AIDS is an unspoken, and often unacknowledged, motivator for protagonist Sam Solomon. While interviewing world-famed, but now very ill, art collector Elliot Garland in order to ghostwrite his autobiography, Solomon sees a stunning, highly sexual drawing of a near-naked young man on a bed cradling a skull. The picture startles Sam and sets him off on a journey--not only to discover the artist and subject, but into his own life to resolve his conflicting emotional needs: to find what he considers the security of heterosexual family life and yet pursue emotional and sexual relationships with men.

As in his popular, award-winning novels Clara's Heart and Nightswimmer, Olshan understands here how sadness, fear, and even death are the most common shapers of important emotional and erotic experiences. Vanitas is filled with hope and love, but avers that these life-affirming emotions are only achieved after facing the deepest horrors, fears, and terrors of living in the world. --Michael Bronski

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